Friday, December 3, 2010

The Evolution of Funf.

Now the curtain is well and truly pulled back. In fact it's off the rails and on the floor. The neighbours have emerged from their sanctuary in the bushes and are pressed boldly against the window, staring at our nakedness.

And we have a lot of previously unseen stuff to show. Grug points out it would be far more logical to start with Bruce, but I am in a Funf kind of mood. Who is Funf and how did we come up with him? How did he go from a tiny sparkle in my eye to being painfully and traumatically birthed on the page? Brace yourselves with some kind of brace because this is Funf's story.

Sci-fi has taught us that space is teeming with lizards. Space lizards. Lots of them.

My favourite is Bossk, of course, and he's already a bounty hunter, but there's plenty more where that came from. They seem like a sensible choice for an alien race because they're cold, reptilian, emotionless and can survive bleak conditions.

When choosing the four members of the Glorious Bounty crew, we were really dealing initially with broad archetypes. Deevis was possibly going to be human, so Funf's real role was as the main alien. He was markedly different from everyone else, with a different culture, different physiology and different needs. And I figured that would make him hard to get along with and usually at odds with the rest of the crew.

His real role on the team would be the muscle, but he was intended to be difficult to control and somewhat of a time bomb who would fly into a violent rage at the slightest insult. Things haven't really turned out that way, but these were the descriptions that I was giving Grug as he started to draw.

The initial sketches were turned out very, very quickly. I would send an email to Grug and receive a sketch within five or ten minutes. I'll leave him to talk about his own thoughts and approach in the future, but here's the first pass at Funf that I received (none of these initial concept sketches involved costumes... it was decided early on to nail the basic look first and then create the costume afterwards):

This sketch if nothing else illustrates that the brief was really to broad. Here's Funf as the huge, muscular crazy lizard guy, complete with Mohawk and tattoo, but it's not a character that I especially want to know more about. He kind of has a bit of an obnoxious nineties vibe about him too, whereas ultimately I think our designs when kind of charming and not tied to any specific time (if anything I hope they're a bit retro). So a lot of the more outlandish elements were pulled back for the next sketch:
I like this a lot more, but something is still not right. I'm still unsure about the tattoo and the mohawk (although greatly diminished) but the biggest problem for me is becoming the muscle. Can he be strong without being in perfect shape? Can he be more of a big solid slab to give the impression that he doesn't necessarily spend time working on his body - he's just naturally strong because of his bulk?

Grug immediately returns the closest version yet:

This is really the version that we signed off. I was still unsure about what should be happening on top of his head and asked for a few more options. This just proved that Grug was right the first time and we kept the ring of dots (lights?) around his head. I don't know what these do but when we find out we're all going to be thrilled.

It's at this point where I shoot an email describing costume ideas (a simple harness, shoulder pads - it's all a bit He-Man) and then Grug completes a fully inked sketch and makes another huge leap forward towards the Funf we know today:
And that's pretty much how he looks now, although the characters are continuing to evolve (as you can see between issues one and two). I then did a string of colour tests to pitch to Grug:

And we ultimately settled on this one:

And he, of course, goes through a lot of versions as ridiculous things happen to him, like losing an arm, losing his skin, or growing the new arm for book two. It's important to me to not be too precious about these characters and if we have a funny or unexpected way to mutilate them then we should do it and deal with the consequences later. I want to put all these guys through the wringer for your viewing pleasure.

And, of course the character has evolved too. This softer, flabbier, round-face Funf has become more child-like and Grug has explored that a lot with his performance, and I have incorporated that much more into the script (you will see a lot more of this as Book Two unfolds). Despite the terrible things that he has done, I see Funf as really an innocent. He's not malicious, he just doesn't know any better. And despite the fact that he's kind of dumb and child-like I still want him to be an imposing force. If he does get pushed and becomes angry then he's definitely a force to be reckoned with. In the wrong set of cirmcumstances he's still going to fly off the handle and mess you up. I think we should be endeared by these characters, and root for these characters, but at the same time I want the reader to always be reminded that they're not heroes - they're bad people who have done bad things.

Oh... and the name? Named after my colossal cat. Who is Franklin but gets called a variety of things like Spanklin, Wanklin, Funflin, and The Funf. I see it as being pronounced more like Foonf than "fun with an f on the end" but we're a free people and you can say it however the hell you want.

We'll talk about who he is, his backstory and how he fits in with the team another time. Tell your friends. A new blog is lonely!

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